AAA Survey Shows Alarming Level of Unpreparedness
Posted at 11 a.m.
A survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic reveals that the vast majority of Virginia and Maryland residents are not prepared for extreme weather events. The poll also exposes the fact that most don’t give a second thought about making safe driving decisions should a significant storm hit. They also have ignored the “Turn Around Don’t Drown” warning and driven into hazardous flood waters.
Driving through flooded roadways is an extremely dangerous behavior, yet alarmingly, four in 10 (41 percent) of drivers in Virginia and 38 percent of Maryland drivers report having done so in the past.
The survey of area residents shows that only 19 percent of Virginia respondents and just 18 percent of Maryland respondents said their storm preparations include securing adequate supplies like food, water and batteries, but also a family emergency plan.
“The survey validates the concern and the fear that few of us are prepared for a major or a large-scale disaster, a mega storm, the next catastrophic event or the ‘next big one.’ The watchword is ‘be prepared,’ yet an alarming numbers confessed to driving through flooded or water-covered roads or to not having a plan for evacuating their homes in a major event. This is astounding,” said John B. Townsend II, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Virginia experienced 12 direct hits from major hurricanes from 1851 to 2004, according to an analysis by the National Hurricane Center. Meanwhile, Maryland was impacted by two direct strikes by the deadliest, costliest and most intense hurricanes on the U.S. main-land from 1851 to 2004. Since then, both states have been impacted by major tropical storms or hurricanes that resulted in heavy flooding. Such systems can also spawn smaller and localized weather-related damage.
Fifty-six percent of Virginia respondents said they were not at all concerned about residential damage while 13 percent said they were very concerned and 29 percent said they were somewhat concerned. Similarly, 50 percent of Marylanders said they were not at all concerned about residential damage while 14 percent said they were very concerned and 36 percent said they were somewhat concerned.
Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S., causing billions in economic losses each year. Currently, there are only about 660,000 flood insurance policies in force in Virginia and around 267,990 flood insurance policies were in force in Maryland in 2011.
“If you don’t have a personal/family emergency plan, take the time to create one now. This includes discussing various scenarios with your family and rehearsing the actions you’ll take if and when a disaster strikes,” said Townsend. “Talking about what to do with family members is critical. Advising family members to stay in a safe place, for example, rather than pushing safety limits to get home so that others won’t worry, will give everyone greater piece of mind.”
Read the complete press release on the AAA Mid-Atlantic survey, along with severe storm/hurricane preparation tips from AAA. Note that you may need to enter your ZIP code to access the press release.